Earlier this year Apple AAPL +1.22% shelled out $3 billion to purchase Beats, the company founded by Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. Though the latter quickly claimed to be hip-hop’s first billionaire, a nine-figure tax bill means that won’t happen immediately—but he’s well on his way.
In the meantime, Dre has been racking up plenty of other financial accomplishments. His latest: capturing this year’s hip-hop cash crown with pretax earnings of $620 million. Not only is that the highest annual total of any entertainer ever evaluated by FORBES, it’s more than the combined earnings of all 24 of his companions on the 2014 Hip-Hop Cash Kings list.
“It’s safe to say headphones is a good business,” says DJ Khaled, who makes his debut at No. 20 with estimated earnings of $7 million.
Full coverage: Hip-Hop Cash Kings 2014
It’s a long way down to the No. 2 spot, where Diddy and Jay Z sit tied at $60 million. Hov’s total is his highest since 2010, bolstered by a diverse list of ventures including his growing Roc Nation empire ; 68 concerts in our scoring period, D’Ussé cognac and his latest album, which was certified platinum before it was released due to an agreement with Samsung to buy 1 million copies.
Like Jay Z, Diddy is still working as hard as ever to earn his $60 million payday. His agreement with Diageo’s Ciroc vodka accounts for the bulk of those bucks, but he gets a boost from other ventures like DeLeon tequila, Blue Flame marketing, Sean Jean clothing, and Revolt TV.
“I love going where the hustle is,” he told FORBES earlier this year. “I love going where like-minded people are.”
One person who could be counted in that category is Drake, who ranks fourth with $33 million in earnings. His fourth studio album, Nothing Was the Same, has sold about 4 million copies worldwide; additional checks from an arena tour and endorsement deal with Nike’s Jordan line have tripled Drake’s 2013 earnings of $10.5 million.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis round out the top five with a combined $32 million. The Seattle duo kicked off 2014 with a bang, winning four of the seven Grammy awards for which they were nominated—including Best New Artist and Best Rap Album for The Heist. That type of acclaim has translated to big bucks on the road, pushing the pair to more than triple last year’s $9 million take.
To form this year’s Cash Kings list, we considered income from touring, record sales, publishing, merchandise sales, endorsements and other ventures. Management, agent and attorney fees are not deducted. Earnings are calculated from June 2013 to June 2014 and based on data from Pollstar, the RIAA and Nielsen SoundScan, and from interviews with managers, lawyers, executives and some of the artists themselves.
Another highlight of the list: the inclusion of two newcomers, DJ Khaled and J. Cole, who are tied for No. 20 with earnings of $7 million. New albums in 2013—Cole’s Born Sinner and Khaled’s Suffering From Success—and the live gigs that followed boosted both artists to the greatest financial heights of their respective careers.
“It worked out even better than I imagined,” said Cole. “And I’ll leave it at that.”
It’s safe to say that’s a sentiment most likely shared by Dr. Dre.